Raymond Bertness

Raymond I. Bertness Jr., 99, of Spencer, and formerly of Sioux Rapids, died Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 at St. Luke Lutheran Home in Spencer.

Memorial services were held Saturday, Nov. 23, at First Lutheran Church in Sioux Rapids. Sliefert Funeral Home in Sioux Rapids was in charge of the arrangements. 

Raymond, son of Raymond I. Bertness, Sr. and Ina Scott Bertness, was born on his family’s farm south of Sioux Rapids on Sept. 13, 1920. He graduated from Sioux Rapids Community High School in 1938, and received his BA from Buena Vista College in 1942.  

Ray served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during WWII and participated in the D-Day Normandy Invasion as a “Deception” Battalion level Radio Operator. He was tasked with providing the enemy with false information about normal Army operations while bivouacked in England from June 4, 1944,  through June 12 while the actual D-Day Normandy troop movements were conducted in strict radio silence. It was a diversion designed to keep the Nazi 15th army out of the Cherbourg area while the June 6 invasion took place.  

Raymond was united in marriage with Yvonne Petersen from Linn Grove during WWII. After the war, Raymond and Yvonne were teaching school in Rockwell City when Raymond Sr. suffered a minor heart attack, upon which the senior Bertnesses moved into Sioux Rapids and Raymond and Yvonne moved to the farm where Ray took over farming.  In addition to farming, he was a township assessor for Buena Vista County, an insurance salesman for Buena Vista County Mutual, and had a 34 year career as a sales rep for Garst and Thomas Pioneer Seed corn, eventually turning that business over to his son Marc.  Raymond was active in the community, including First Lutheran Church of Sioux Rapids and Masonic Lodge, where he served several terms as Worshipful Master.

Raymond and Yvonne were the parents of four children: Scott (Nancy) of Des Moines; Jan (Dave) Becker of Melbourne Beach, Fla.; Marc (Jacki) of Sioux Rapids; and Kevin (Juli) of Batavia, Ill.  There are four grandchildren: Allison (Dave) Williams of Plymouth, Minn.; Emily Wieser of West Des Moines; Lizzie Bertness of Chicago, Ill.; and Katie Bertness with the Peace Corps in Guyana, South America.  There are three great-grandchildren: Katya and Max Williams of Plymouth, Minn.; and Henry Wieser of West Des Moines. 

He was preceded in death by his brother Philip during WWII; his parents; his wife Yvonne in 2008; and a grandson-in-law (Sean Wieser) this fall. 

He is survived by his sister Joyce of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; and sister-in-law Zoe Petersen of Storm Lake; his children; grandchildren; five nephews; great-grandchildren; a host of other relatives and friends; and his beloved Jack Russell terrier, Lola.

In addition to international travel with Yvonne, he enjoyed time spent at their Arnolds Park cottage and in later years, the Barefoot Bar for lunch.  One of his annual milestones, always occurring during his birthday, was attendance at the Clay County Fair, starting when he was three.  He only missed four years during his deployment overseas during WWII, so he had attended 92 fairs, including this past fall on his 99th Birthday.

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